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National Theatre of Parramatta launches at Riverside

The future is bright for the arts in Western Sydney with the launch of new Australian theatre company National Theatre of Parramatta at Riverside Theatres on 19 November. Kevin Nguyen from Parramatta Sun reports, below.

OPERATING out of the Riverside Theatres, the new theatre company aims to “put the nation on the stage” said one of the directors Annette Shun Wah.

“Kind of a cheeky phrase, I know,” she said.

“We’re putting [forward] a picture of Australia that we don’t see on main stage very much at all.”

“Our vision is to put on stage here something that is relevant and resonates with the people who come to see the show.”

Shun Wah is a director, actor and producer, and launched the company in partnership with the former artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company Wayne Harrison; creative producer Paula Abood and S Shakthidharan, an associate producer at Carriageworks.

“There’s a game I play called the surname game,” Harrison said.

He began listing all the last names of theatre directors around Australia — Sheehy, Strong, Blanchett, Church, Upton.

“There is a very convincing Anglo-centric tradition that is running the major theatre scene.”

“There isn’t anything malign about it, but we have to make sure that doesn’t come at the exclusion of others.”

Harrison also said it was very important the company pays their workers — a concept he said has “gone out of fashion”.

While it wouldn’t always be a living wage, he said, there is no incentive like money to motivate people to develop professionally.

The inaugural production, opening in April 2016, will be Swallow by feminist playwright Stef Smith.

In June, the theatre company will show Jane Harrison’s 1988 drama Stolen, based upon the lives Indigenous people followed by a story-telling festival in October.

“I hope in about two years, the blood and guts of the productions here will be western Sydney,” Shakthidharan said.

“[Something] I’m really interested in is a way we can create art and tell the stories of this place in a way that doesn’t compromise the artistic quality, I don’t think one should come at the cost of the other.”

The new theatre company has secured four years of funding from Arts NSW, Crown Resorts Foundation, Packer Family Foundation and Parramatta Council.

CLICK HERE to visit National Theatre of Parramatta’s website.

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